Saturday, December 24, 2016

Team Kayak Lake Mead - Everglades Challenge 2016


Druce and I the day before the race on the start beach, Everglades Challenge 2016
Druce and I the day before the race on the start beach, Everglades Challenge 2016 


Paddling and Sleeping and the Ernest Shackleton Award
Everglades Challenge 2016 Report by Robert Finlay (IronBob):

It took me nine months to finally write this story down. 

This is our seventh story of the Everglades Challenge (the EC). Our WaterTribe names are IronBob and TheJuice and once again we paddled Sunshine in Class 2 (at night her name is Ranger). She's a SEDA Kayaks Triumph; 24' by 24", arrow like, agile for her length, and in the right hands quite seaworthy. For an explanation of our tribal names and classes of boat in this race, see my write up of EC 2014

Sometimes in writing up our EC story I've delved into my thinking and experiences, my emotions and passions, and even how I act and interact with fear and pain. My write up of the EC 2015 is a good example of all that. This time I think my story is going to be simpler. 

This year there were 90 boats on the start beach. There were 26 boats in Class 1, which are paddle craft in which 1 square meter of downwind sail per paddler is allowed. There were 10 boats in Class 2, which are paddle craft in which no sail is allowed. 

This year we would finish first among all paddle craft, our fourth time doing so, and seventh among all boats. This year we would receive the Ernest Shackleton Award for nautical excellence. 

But all we did was just paddle south and sleep a lot. 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Endeavor Team Challenge 2015 : Race Report Team Ryan Ross, Robert Finlay

Overview Map, Endeavor Team Challenge 2015
Overview Map, Endeavor Team Challenge 2015


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole, 
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul. *

* The first stanza of the poem "Invictus" by William Ernest Henley, the other stanzas will follow throughout this report. This poem would follow us, all the competitors of the Endeavor Team Challenge, throughout the competition. Invictus is a good word, meaning; invincible, unconquered, undefeated, unconquerable.  

Friday night, 11/12 September, 2015, my teammate Ryan Ross, my wife Rebecca, and I have a room in the Bear Valley Lodge. It is midnight. I am nervous and anxious and cannot sleep. In the morning, Ryan and I will begin the athletic event known as the Endeavor Team Challenge. At 6 AM, after months of preparation, we start. I have never, in my entire life, been apprehensive before an athletic event. How did it get to this point?

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Team Kayak Lake Mead - Everglades Challenge 2015

Druce Finlay, Everglades Challenge 2015
Druce Finlay, Everglades Challenge 2015


This is our sixth story of The Everglades Challenge (the EC). Some of this story is about the event, the Everglades Challenge 2015, much of this story is about me and how I think, what my experiences are, what my emotions are, what my passions are, and even how I act and interact with fear, pain, and mental anguish. After delving into this article, you may quickly come to the conclusion that I am completely nuts, and you might be right to think that. But, I hope (we'll talk about that word later) you'll enjoy the read, because I am going to hold nothing back.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Spring Breaks '74 and '75 : Climbing to the 18th Floor via Balconies : Kicking a Shark in the Face

Spring Break '74 and '75, Caribbean Flights, Antilles Air Boats, Grummna G-21 Goose
Spring Break '74 and '75, Caribbean Flights, Antilles Air Boats, Grummna G-21 Goose


My first thought about this post was, who wants to read about college kids and their spring break antics? But then I thought, this journal is about writing down memories, particularly the memories that get repeated over and over over the years. A couple of the memories in this post I have repeated many times; nostalgia ad infinitum. So here are two stories; one of Spring Break 1974 and one of 1975.

The year was 1973 and Robert Topolewski, Steve Kidder, and I, already experienced European travelers, were on an American Airlines flight out of New York City bound for San Juan Puerto Rico and more misadventure.


Sunday, December 28, 2014

3 Days in August : The Mohave Desert : Long Distance Training

3 days in August, long distance training, bike, hike, paddle
Map - 3 days in August, long distance training, bike, hike, paddle

This is a story, not of excitement or heroics, but just of grinding out long distance across natural terrain using only muscle power and wit.

Mountain Biking, Hiking, and Paddling:

Friday, December 12, 2014

Speed Ascent : Half Dome Regular Northwest Face

Tenaya Valley (Upper Yosemite Valley), Summer 1987
Tenaya Valley (Upper Yosemite Valley), Summer 1987


Undoubtedly those few square miles of planet earth where Half Dome sits is one of the most striking, one of the most beautiful places on the planet. The photo above only hints at its grandeur, you have to go there to experience it.

I've climbed that sheer wall, that north face of Half Dome, three times. Twice I guided it, once with some Navy guys and once with some Army guys, and once, the very first time I was up there, Paul van Betten and I were climbing it as fast as we could. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Endeavor Team Challenge : Race Report Team Ryan Ross, Robert Finlay

Team Endeavor Challenge 2013 - The Finish, Ryan Ross, Robert Finlay
Team Endeavor Challenge 2013 - The Finish, Ryan Ross, Robert Finlay 


Alpine, CA - 7, 8 September 2013


The first mention I saw of this event was, in the words of the organizers, two former US Army Rangers, “the Endeavor Team Challenge is a monumental test of fitness”. Paraphrasing the descriptions of the event I found on their website and Facebook pages - teams of 2 would face 30 plus hours and 40 miles of mountain summits, obstacle courses, lake and stream crossings, physical challenges, multiple long movements of undisclosed distances of 10 to 20 miles, climbing and rappelling, kayaking, mental challenges and stress, memorization/recitation, problem solving, false finish lines, extra equipment to carry, limited sleep, day and night orienteering, culminating in something called a Sole Survivor run, and at an undisclosed place and time teams would face another challenge, something called the OPT Battle Drill, a crossfit torture test programmed by Crossfit Games Champion James Fitzgerald.

Well, that sounded like a good time to me. Immediately I contacted Ryan Ross to form a team. Inadvertently we had already been preparing for this event because well, that's kind of what we do. Both Ryan and I have years of adventuring racing experience under our belts. Now supposedly we would need only to fine tune ourselves to the specifics of this event.